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PDP Avoids INEC Parley With Sixty Political Parties

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The Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] has shunned the parley organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] with some sixty political parties, including the All Progressives Congress [APC].

The parley, according to INEC, is to review the Conduct of the 2019 general elections.

Delivering his keynote address, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said that it was necessary for the commission to review the conduct of the polls with a view of improving electoral process in the future.

He said: “The Commission has promised the nation that it will undertake a major national conversation on the future of our electoral process. Having concluded our in-house reviews, today marks the beginning of our consultation with stakeholders.

“This is therefore an auspicious occasion to, first of all, hear from those who actually fielded candidates for 1,558 constituencies in which elections were held in 2019 and deployed agents to 119,973 polling units as well as the various levels of collation of results and declaration of winners nationwide.

“It is important to remind us that as we review the 2019 General Elections in order to identify successes, challenges and the way forward, we should also ask ourselves the extent to which we have complied with the extant laws.”

PDP and it’s presidential candidate in the 2019 poll, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are already in Court challenging the outcome of the election.

Reminding the political parties to submit two election expenses reports to the Commission, he said:

“I wish to remind you that the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) requires each political party to submit two election expenses reports to the Commission. First is the disclosure of material contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies three months after the announcement of the results of the General Election as provided for in Sec. 93(4) of the Electoral Act.

“So far, no political party is in compliance. Secondly, parties are required to submit audited returns of their election expenses within six months after an election as provided for in Sec. 92(3)[a] of the Electoral Act.

“Although we are still within the time frame provided by law, so far only one party has filed its returns.

“Similarly, the Commission notes that only one presidential candidate has submitted financial expenses report. We wish to remind leaders of political parties of their obligations under the law.

“We have already conveyed to each political party the range of issues to be discussed at this meeting. We are also aware that many of you are familiar with previous efforts to reform the electoral process.

“In the last eleven years, wide ranging recommendations have been made by several committees on electoral reform, notably the Uwais Committee (2008), the Lemu Committee (2011) and most recently the Nnamani Committee (2017).

“The various Committees made essentially similar recommendations. They identified the need to re-examine the extensive responsibilities of INEC, the roles and responsibilities of the security agencies during elections, the imperative of internal democracy within political parties, issues of inclusivity with particular reference to marginalised segments of our society (women, youths and persons living with disabilities), voter inducement which has now assumed a new dimension with vote-buying at polling units on election day, reform of the electoral legal framework, violence and hate speech during the electioneering process, and appropriate sanctions for violators of our electoral laws.

“The conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates for the 2019 General Elections was indeed very acrimonious resulting in a number of court cases on the participation or otherwise of political parties and candidates in elections in many constituencies.

“This has made the management of electoral logistics and post-election litigations more challenging to the Commission. At the moment, there are 809 cases challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties in regular courts across the country.

“This figure is more than the number of petitions challenging the conduct of the main election currently before the Election Petition Tribunals nationwide.

“It is therefore imperative for political parties to build their capacities for internal democracy, voter mobilisation and financial procedures. Effectively run political parties are crucial to our democratic consolidation. I want to reassure you that for our part, the Commission will continue to work with IPAC as enshrined in the Code of Conduct for political parties.”

On the upcoming Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections, Yakubu said:

“In the next few months, Governorship elections will hold in Bayelsa and Kogi States. The elections will hold simultaneously in the two States on Saturday 16th November 2019. The Commission has already released the timetable and schedule of activities for the elections.

“Party primaries are scheduled to hold from 18th August to 5th September 2019. The deadline of 5th September 2019 is firm and fixed. The conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates must be transparent and democratic in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 87 of the Electoral Act as well as our regulations and guidelines.

“The Commission expects strict compliance by all parties that wish to nominate candidates for the elections. No nomination arising from primaries conducted after the deadline will be accepted by the Commission.

“So far, three political parties have given us notices indicating the dates for their primaries for both Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections. The Commission once again reminds party leaders to do the needful. In doing so, you should indicate not only the dates but also venues and time for the primaries.

“I urge you to avoid persistent rescheduling of your primaries or late minute change of venue which sometimes disenfranchise your members and make effective monitoring by the Commission difficult. Where political parties opt for direct primaries, there should be proper register of members otherwise it will amount to conducting an election without the voters’ register.’

“We look forward to a robust engagement with political parties at this meeting. I am confident that at this meeting, party leaders will make wide-ranging proposals for the review of our electoral and democratic processes.

“I want to assure you that we shall give expeditious consideration to the actionable recommendations from this meeting that fall within the powers of the Commission to handle administratively. We shall also work with IPAC to ensure that the required amendments to the legal framework are given speedy consideration by the National Assembly.”

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